REPORT & PICTURES: Crawley Wasps 5 London Kent Football Utd 1

Captain Naomi Cole gets the title party started at The Haven (Photo: Ben Davidson, www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Crawley Wasps popped the champagne corks and completed an unbeaten league season as they beat London Kent Football United 5-1 on Sunday to set the seal on promotion.

Wasps had already secured their place in the FA Women’s Premier League for next season but finished with a flourish at The Haven.

Faye Rabson hit a hat-trick in the space of 24 first-half minutes, the first two coming from spectacular individual runs as her pace caused the visitors no end of problems.

Rachel Palmer drilled in the third after Rabson and Ariana Fleischman had combined well just inside the box, and Rabson completed her treble from Fleischman’s through ball.

Cole then guided a lob beyond the keeper to make it 5-0, before London KFU pulled one back from a penalty harshly awarded against goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs.

As celebration ensued, boss Paul Walker said: “To finish the season undefeated and champions is a fantastic feeling.

“I can’t say enough about the squad and the coaching staff. They’ve been absolutely superb with application, effort and focus.”

Hat-trick hero Faye Rabson celebrates with (from left) Ariana Fleischman, Naomi Cole and Suzanne Davies (photo: Ben Davidson, www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Skipper Cole admitted that while Wasps had dominated the league, dropping points only once in 16 games, they had never underestimated any opponent.

She said: “You have to work hard in every game to make sure you get results and we’ve built the squad this year that has been capable of doing that.

“I’ve got the belief that this team can go very far. Hopefully we can go in to the Premier League as underdogs, see what we can do next season.”

Left-back Michelle Ward, the club’s longest-serving played having joined as an eight-year-old in 1997, added: “We’ve been trying to push on for eight seasons and I think we’ve deserved it this season. Fingers crossed we can compete really well in the league above.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Carter, Ward; Elphick, Cole; Davies, Fleischman, Palmer; Rabson. Subs: James, Drury, Webber.

• PHOTOS: A gallery of images from the game can be found at Ben Davidson Photography.

REPORT AND PICTURES: Crawley Wasps 6 Jersey FA 1

Crawley Wasps and Jersey FA Women’s Representative XI line-up for the cameras (Picture: bendavidsonphotography.com)

Crawley Wasps hosted a Jersey FA Representative XI in a friendly at Steyning Town on Sunday, running out of 6-1 victors.

Charlie Carter’s precise effort from the edge of the box put Wasps ahead on 10 minutes, but only a smart save from Frankie Gibbs and Niamh Stephenson’s goalline clearance prevented an equaliser.

However, Wasps were largely in control in the first half with Naomi Cole scoring a penalty and a free kick, before goals from Suzanne Davies and Kemina Webber made it 5-0 at the break.

Jersey upped their game in the second half, pressing well and pulling one back after breaking free in the box, but an own goal late in the game rounded off the scoring.

For a full photo gallery from the game, click here. Pictures: Ben Davidson (www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

Kemina Webber takes on the Jersey defence (Picture: www.bendavidsonphotography.com)

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 0 Lewes FC Women 4

Niamh Stephenson challenges ex-Wasps striker Rebecca Carter (Picture: Simon Roe – www.simonroephotography.co.uk)

Crawley Wasps were beaten in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup final for the third year in a row, losing 4-0 to Lewes on Thursday.

Georgia Bridges netted twice and former Wasps striker Rebecca Carter scored a stunning strike from distance for the FA Women’s Premier League side, who have applied to join the WSL Championship for next season.

It marked Wasps’ first defeat since May 2017 but amounted to more heartache in this competition after 5-1 losses to Brighton in the last two seasons.

They were indebted to several good saves from goalkeeper Frankie Gibbs to keep them in touch at the break, although she was beaten by Bridges’ firm strike from the edge of the box on 25 minutes.

At the other end, Naomi Cole’s free-kick was gathered by Lewes keeper Faye Baker.

Carter had scored a spectacular goal in the 2016 final for Wasps and repeated her magic at the same end of the ground within 40 seconds of the restart.

That was to prove a turning point as Lewes visibly relaxed and started to pin Wasps back for periods of the second half.

Paul Walker’s side did not surrender and only smart defending from Natasha Wells prevented Wasps’ Faye Rabson getting a free shot away against her old club.

But Gibbs remained busy as she saved from Vicky Carleton before Bridges got her second, latching on to a through ball from the excellent Avilla Bergin.

Danielle Lane finished from six yards after being found by Carter’s cross, while all Wasps could muster was a Kemina Webber effort fielded by Baker.

“It was a very competitive game, one I’m sure our players will learn from,” said Wasps boss Paul Walker.

“It would have been lovely to have been lifting that trophy but this will not define our season.”

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Carter, Ward; Elphick, Cole; Fleischman, Drury, Rabson; Webber.
Subs: Hillman, Callaghan, N.Smith, Davies, T. Smith.

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 21 Watford Development 0

Six players scored hat-tricks as Crawley Wasps beat a short-handed Watford Development 21-0 on Sunday to edge closer to promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League.

Skipper Naomi Cole (pictured) led the way with four goals, while Rachel Palmer, Toni Smith, Ariana Fleischman, Faye Rabson and Kemina Webber also hit trebles.

Webber started the rout against her old club, Cole rifled in from 25 yards before Fleischman and Jenny Drury set up Rabson for the third, with 12 minutes on the clock.

Midway through the first half, a fizzing shot from Palmer made it 4-0 before Fleischman scored the fifth and sixth goals, created by Rabson and Smith.

Experienced ex-Brighton and Lewes striker Catherine O’Hagan got her first goal for Wasps, finishing smartly over the keeper, Cole nodded in Palmer’s corner and Rabson netted in the final seconds of the half to leave Wasps 9-0 up at the break.

Cole was the first to complete her hat-trick, driving in from distance three minutes into the second half, before Smith’s persistence in the box got her on the scoresheet.

Palmer scored twice more – profiting after Charlie Carter’s rocket from 40 yards cannoned back off the woodwork, and then finishing from Smith’s ball – before Webber, Drury and Smith netted to take the score to 16-0.

Wasps scored five times in the last 12 minutes as a battling Watford, who had just 10 players throughout, tired.

Smith got her hat-trick, Cole’s corner drifted straight in, Fleischman curled home, Rabson made it 20-0 and Webber fired in from the edge of the box to complete Wasps’ biggest win since defeating Henfield 25-0 in the Sussex Women’s Cup in October 2013.

It could have been more, with Hannah Duncan, Palmer and Smith all hitting the woodwork, but it was not all one-way traffic, with Gibbs making a couple of second-half stops.

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Carter, Palmer, Ward; Elphick, Cole; Fleischman, Drury, Rabson; Webber. Subs: James, Callaghan, T. Smith, O’Hagan.

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 3 Parkwood Rangers 0

Naomi Cole (l) and Faye Rabson were both on target

Crawley Wasps’ outstanding season continued on Sunday as they reached the final of the London & South East Regional League Cup for the second year in a row.

Their 3-0 win over a resilient Parkwood Rangers earned them a place in the showpiece against AFC Phoenix, at Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium, on May 20.

Paul Walker’s side are unbeaten this season – 17 matches in all competitions – and have a Sussex Challenge Cup final against Lewes and possible promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League to look forward to.

Against Parkwood – fourth in the division – they dominated large spells but lacked a killer touch in front of goal, despite Ariana Fleischman, Faye Rabson and Naomi Cole all testing the keeper.

They almost paid for their profligacy as a defensive slip allowed Parkwood a chance, but keeper Frankie Gibbs made an excellent block.

Wasps broke through in first-half injury-time when Toni Smith got nudged over in the box and Cole despatched the penalty.

Kemina Webber hit the woodwork with a header after the break but made amends by nodding home Cole’s expert delivery to double the lead on 70 minutes.

And Wasps put the game beyond the visitors’ reach as Webber laid the ball off for Rabson to drill home.

They return to league action this weekend, as Watford LFC Development visit Tinsley Lane, Oakwood (2pm kick-off). A win would put them closer to achieving their title ambitions.

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Carter, Ward; Drury, Cole; Rabson, Fleischman, Callaghan; T. Smith. Subs: Elphick, N. Smith, C. O’Hagan, Webber.

Wasps’ reserves were beaten 3-2 by Worthing in the semi-finals of the South East Counties League Cup. Amy Clark and Natalie Stephenson scored.

MATCH REPORT: Eastbourne Ladies 0 Crawley Wasps 2

Wasps’ Toni Smith evades an Eastbourne challenge (Picture: Andrew Hazelden)

Crawley Wasps booked their place in the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup final for the third year in a row – but were made to work hard for a 2-0 victory over Eastbourne Ladies on Sunday.

The two sides are a division-and-a-half apart but for three quarters of this tie, only an outstanding lob by Wasps skipper Naomi Cole could split them.

Suzanne Davies’ goal midway through the second half settled the visitors’ nerves and ensured they will face Lewes on March 22 at Lancing.

It completes the first of three season objectives, with promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League and a place in the League Cup final still on.

Wasps were well short of their usual performance levels but will have been satisfied to have overcome tenacious and tireless Eastbourne.

There had been very little action in the first 25 minutes until Cole spectacularly capitalised on an error.

Suzanne Davies slots in Wasps’ second goal (Picture: Andrew Hazelden)

A poor clearance from the Eastbourne keeper went straight to the former Millwall and Lewes player, who showed tremendous technique to send it into the net from the edge of the centre circle.

That did not dishearten the hosts nor inspire the visitors and the two sides too often cancelled each other out in a sometimes attritional battle.

Wasps did have the odd chance to settle it before Davies’ goal, with Nicholle Smith putting an effort over the bar from close range after good work from Kemina Webber, while Catherine O’Hagan got clear but shot at the keeper.

Davies doubled the lead after a fine pass from Charlie Carter, while Webber and Ariana Fleischman had chances late on, but a third would have been harsh on Eastbourne.

Wasps: Gibbs; Duncan, Niamh Stephenson, Carter, Ward; Elphick, Cole; N.Smith, T. Smith, Davies; C. O’Hagan. Subs: Fleischman, Webber.

PHOTO GALLERY: For more of Andrew Hazelden’s pictures from the game, click here.

MATCH REPORT: Parkwood Rangers 0 Crawley Wasps 3

Wasps’ first-team boss Paul Walker

Crawley Wasps manager Paul Walker urged his side to keep their focus as their promotion bid continued with a 3-0 win at Parkwood Rangers on Sunday.

Goals from Kemina Webber, Faye Rabson and skipper Naomi Cole means they go into February still unbeaten this season, after 15 matches in all competitions.

More importantly, it puts them eight points clear of second-placed AFC Phoenix and 12 ahead of more likely title challengers London Kent Football United, who have three games in hand.

Wasps meet London KFU on March 18, when a victory could clinch a promotion to the FA Women’s Premier League.

But Walker warned: “It’s not a foregone conclusion. We’ve still got four games left.

“There are banana skins in there. We’ve got to show the same level of application we have all season.”

Webber’s first-minute opener settled any lingering nerves at Parkwood, but Wasps failed to make their dominance count until the second half.

Rabson’s fine run and finish put a bit of daylight between the two sides and she later teed up Cole to make it 3-0 after an excellent team move.

Midfielder Jade Elphick was named the Thales player of the match, while new signing Rachel Palmer made a composed debut at centre-back.

Wasps: Gibbs; Carter, Niamh Stephenson, Palmer, Ward; Elphick, Cole; Fleischman, T. Smith, Rabson; Webber. Subs: Davies, N. Smith.

Wasps’ development squad – the Ladies’ third team – were beaten 4-2 at Pagham in the Sussex Women’s League. Sonia Foster – who was later sent off – and Abi Knight scored Wasps’ goals.

Captain Zoe Martin netted the only goal in the reserves‘ 1-0 friendly win over Lewes Foundation, who are top of the division below.

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 3 Fulham Foundation 1

Crawley Wasps hit back after falling behind early on to beat Fulham Foundation 3-1 on Sunday and remain third in the London & South East Premier Division.

The visitors took the lead in the seventh minute with a lob from distance, but Wasps levelled almost immediately through Nicholle Smith’s emphatic finish.

And they were in front on 20 minutes when Suzanne Davies released Roseanne Fine in the left-hand channel and she clipped the ball over the keeper from a wide angle.

Opportunities continued to flow for Paul Walker’s side in the first half, the best falling to Davies who beat the keeper to a lofted ball but hit the inside of the far post.

Any concerns over their wasted chances were allayed with a stunning strike seven minutes after the break from midfielder Danielle Boyd, who turned 25 yards out and fired home a fierce shot.

Fine then struck the bar after good work from Smith, and substitute Shinih Tuazon went close on several occasions, including a header just wide from Fine’s cross.

Natalie Stephenson had very little to do in goal during a second half which Wasps entirely dominated, but she did make an important save late on.

Gemma Villette was named the Thales player of the match for a strong performance at right-back and right midfield.

Wasps: Stephenson; Villette, Duncan, Walker, Ward; Elphick; N. Smith, Boyd, Dunt, Davies; Fine. Subs: Porter, Tuazon.

fulham-pom

Crawley Wasps LFC match report: Wasps 1 Watford Development 2

Crawley Wasps’ unbeaten start to the season came to an end on Sunday after they were edged out by Watford Development.

Having won three and drawn one of their first four league games, Wasps finally tasted defeat in a competitive game that could have gone either way.

The two sides drew 0-0 at Watford earlier this month but any threat of another stalemate vanished after just three minutes when the visitors took the lead, a free-kick from wide on the left being turned in from 10 yards out.

The goal settled Watford down and they looked the more threatening side, but the tide turned around the 20 minute mark.

Danielle Boyd and Suzanne Davies both fired just over before Wasps deservedly equalised on 34 minutes.

Rebekah Dunt cut inside and unleashed a shot that the keeper could only parry and Boyd put in the rebound.

Wasps were in the ascendancy as the first half wore on, with Davies being denied by the keeper and Gemma Villette firing wide from a corner.

After the break, Davies broke through a couple of challenges before seeing a shot held, but the second half yielded few chances until the Hornets regained the lead.

A through ball split the Wasps defence and a shot was placed between defender Holly Walker and keeper Natalie Stephenson and in at the far post.

Stephenson did make a fine save late on, tipping an effort over the top, but despite some late pressure, Wasps were unable to test the Watford keeper.

Wasps: Stephenson; Villette, Duncan, Walker, Ward; Elphick; N. Smith, Boyd, Davies, Dunt; Fine. Subs: Porter, Barnett, Tuazon.

MATCH REPORT: Crawley Wasps 3 Carshalton Athletic 2

Two goals from Lauren Callaghan set Crawley Wasps Ladies on their way to another victory on Sunday as they edged out Carshalton at Tinsley Lane.

Winger Callaghan struck either side of half-time before Suzanne Davies put Wasps 3-1 up with 13 minutes to go.
Despite conceding a late goal, the Wasps defence – marshalled superbly by player-of-the-match Kelly Barton – dug in to make it two wins out of two in the London and South East Premier Division.

Carshalton began brightly, with Wasps keeper Catherine Poleykett saving from Robins skipper Tamara Graham, but the home side soon began to get on top and went in front on 36 minutes.

Callaghan’s pressure on the Carshalton defence saw her snap up the ball before beating the keeper with a left-footed shot.
However, the visitors levelled a few minutes later, as Breeze Carmichael stayed just onside to latch on to a header and guide the ball over Poleykett, who then had to be quick off her line to snuff out another chance soon after.

Wasps were immediately on the front foot in the second half, with Callaghan’s cross just evading the foot of debutant Shinih Tuazon, and the pair combined for the second goal as Tuazon got a touch on to a cross that Callaghan converted from close range.

The third Wasps goal, like the first, came from a defensive error, this time forced by the tenacity of Davies, who beat Carshalton keeper Katie Wadsworth.

Carshalton did hit back through a fine strike from Laura Curtis – who last season spent a brief spell at Premier League West Ham – but some brilliant defending and brave goalkeeping kept the Robins at bay and lifted Wasps up to third.

Wasps: Poleykett; Duncan, Barton, Walker, Ward; Villette; N. Smith, Elphick, Davies, Callaghan; Dunt. Subs: Currier, Porter, Stephenson, Barnham, Tuazon.

Carshalton PoM